Illian was waiting for them when they reached the chapel, and he wasn’t alone. The resident priest stood nearby, opposite the altar from Illian. On the altar were two rings glinting in the candlelight with a chain threaded through them and a sealed scroll. Standing next to Illian was the man who had come up to them in the market. He grinned and waved.
Dauris narrowed her eyes as she took a good look at him as they walked up. She glanced at his hair and her eyes widened. “Interesting hair.” She kept her voice neutral.
He bowed. “I might say the same about you, Goldeneyes.” She looked at him, then, but he blinked at her innocently, so she didn’t comment on the name.
Illian looked from one to the other. “Do you know each other?”
Dauris turned to her brother. “We’ve met, but have not been formally introduced. Is he a friend of yours?”
“He’s your transportation, after a fashion. He assures me that he can get you to Castellan safely.” Illian took a formal stance. “Sister, may I introduce you to Dramsol? Dramsol, this is my sister, the Lady Tresoria Dauris of House Krellian.”
Dauris found the genteel folderol reassuring after the shocks of the day. Behind them, Gabriel stood still and impassive. He had already made all the statement that he needed to.
After a moment, Illian continued, picking up the scroll that he had brought with him. “Sister, this scroll is my formal, written approval for your marriage.” Dauris started to argue with him and he stopped her. “I know what you think about this sort of thing but I have to do this. To be certain that you can, if you find that you want to.” He put the scroll in her hands, making certain that she was holding it. “I have also included a copy of the papers of transfer from Father. The two together constitute a formal betrothal, but they depend upon several factors. First, Gabriel’s brother must be the one in your dreams and you must wish to wed him, or otherwise bond your life to his. If, after finding him, you do not wish a formal union, you do not need to have one. Additionally, he must choose to accept the bonding as symbolized in your rings. Should he be everything you desire and should he choose to take you to him, then you have all the formalities covered and need nothing else. All here stand as witnesses.”
They were silent, then, as the priest took a moment to perform the customary blessing over the rings. They glowed softly in the candlelight as the priestly magic invested them with a charm and an enchantment all their own. Then Illian lifted the chain and lowered it over his sister’s head, letting the rings settle into place. Dauris lifted them a moment in her hand, to look at them, before tucking them below the blouse next to her skin.
Illian was silent for a moment. “I don’t know whether or not this man, this Knight, is the one you lost before, reborn. I don’t even know how to plan for that possibility, or the possibility that he isn’t and some other man might be… It’s why I gave you the escape clause. I want you to have your dreams… but more I want you to be happy, Sister.”
She nodded, tears filling her eyes. “Thank you, Brother.”
“You were promised permission if it came to this, and I genuinely wish to give you what aid and assistance I can. For your dreams, for your happiness… all this is worth the effort to me.”
Dauris didn’t know what to say; her voice struggled to work past the lump in her throat from gratitude and sorrow. “I couldn’t find Annie in the bower. If you find her…”
Dramsol cleared his throat. “I, uh, wouldn’t worry about your small friend. She’ll catch up with you later. She’s been good at that sort of thing for a while, you know. We need to get going. There’s some fairly delicate timing going on right now.”
She frowned in curiosity, looking at him. “Timing…?” She looked as if she were about to ask a question, then decided otherwise. “Alright.” She looked at Gabriel. She wanted to kill him for what he had done earlier, for what he had considered doing, but she was still so scared. She just wanted to get away from him and to his brother, who would never do what Gabriel had threatened. “You can tell Gallus where I have gone, but only him, no one else. Do you understand?”
Gabriel nodded. “Yes, Lady Dauris.”
Dauris put the scroll in her bag and then reshouldered it. She nodded to Dramsol. “Where to?
He motioned to her to follow and, after a final embrace for her brother, she did so.
— — —
Dauris walked beside Dramsol, her haversack bouncing on her shoulder where she held both straps in one hand. “So,” she asked when they were away from the chapel, “what’s this about timing?”
Dramsol managed to look vaguely apologetic as he checked around a corner to be certain that they were safe. “You aren’t the only one needing out of the city tonight, and it involves a place I dare not enter.”
“And I can?”
“Yes, actually. Please don’t ask why, I would explain and it’s complicated and there are some things you need to see with your own eyes. You need to fear this place, Goldeneyes, you need to fear it and you need to know how close you came to being a prisoner there.” They approached the marketplace. “Under other circumstances I would take you to Castellan personally and drop you off at the Palace, right into the arms of the one you seek. This way, though, you gain potential allies for later, and you still get to Castellan. Two birds with one stone and all that.”
“How do you know all this? How do you know why I’m leaving Pallantia? And how do you know that name? I haven’t used it in… a very long time.”
He turned to smile at her. “You’re family, Goldeneyes. That’s all that matters to me.”
“Do… do you really know him?”
Dramsol smiled at her again. “I’ve seen him from a distance. I apologize for my performance earlier, but someone had to tell you, I am Mother-touched, and Gabriel deserved it.”
She trembled, remembering Gabriel’s kiss. She had so many questions, so many worries, so many fears. “I’m scared.”
“I know, and I wish I could reassure you. More than you know rests upon you and your Knight, and the bond that you share. Once you get to Castellan the path that you follow will be up to you. You can be delightfully direct or you can be deliciously devious but it is your choice.”
She thought a moment and looked down at her mother’s bracelet, her bridge back, and all that her mother had told her about Castellan before she died. She thought about the contact, and the name, and all she knew about streetlings. Her Knight had been a streetling, and he had said that she was strong. She tucked the bracelet under the cuff of her sleeve so that it didn’t show. “I will not go to Castellan as the Imperial Princess. It would invite retribution.”
“Who will you be, then?”
“Riva. My mother named me Riva.”
— — —
Names for a Traveler are an odd thing. Most people never have more than one, the one they are given in birth. Women usually have two, the second one is taken when they marry and take on the name of their husband. The mere act of naming something is seen as a magic by a great many cultures, even though some scoff at their own superstitions.
But ask any woman who has taken on her husband’s name if she did not change in a fundamental way when she did so.
Travelers usually gather quite a collection of them, and they rediscovered something that more primitive cultures knew long before they did.
Names are magic. Names do have power. Changing a person’s name is as fundamental a change as changing their handwriting.
Most names linger for a little while and then fade as another is taken. Some Travelers seek for decades for a name that fits them, a name that changes them into a shape that they want to be. For this goldeneyed Traveler, though, the search for a proper name had been born of an odd need.
She had been Goldeneyes too long.
She had worked her way through a dozen names over the decades since she began her search for a way to renew herself. But none of them had stuck. None of them had fit.
As Dauris, though, became Riva, the Traveler felt a strange synergistic rightness that told her that here was a name she could keep. Here was a name that would help her regain what was lost. Even her gait changed as she altered herself from the sheltered, frightened Princess into the stronger streetling, for that is what she would be.
Dramsol watched her change and smiled. “Strange, isn’t it?” he asked. “Happy fit.”
She smiled back at him. “Thank you. Now, where’s this person I need to rescue?”
“In good time. First I need to introduce you to the other person seeking to rescue her.” Dramsol waved to a person who was waiting for them in the shadow of a building. As they walked up to him, Riva saw a young man, perhaps late teens or early twenties, with a delightfully wicked cast to his face. He would be a charmer, if she was any judge, but right now he was distracted and worried.
“I was afraid something had happened to you.” He glanced at Riva and smiled, and she saw the dimples spring to life in his cheeks as his charm came to the forefront. “And who is this young lady?”
“This is your ally. Play nice while you’re in there. I can’t go in after you two.”
“I’m Riva. You are?” She offered her hand to shake.
He took her hand and turned it to kiss the back as he bowed. “I am Dalziel, and I am honored to make your acquaintance.”
Oh, Dalziel was definitely a charmer. Riva grinned. It had been too long since she had been able to exchange banter with someone who flirted out of instinct, and an uncommon respect. She liked him immediately. Of course, she always liked charmers and rogues.
Dramsol cleared his throat, though he was grinning a bit too. “Enough, we’re losing time.” Dalziel let go of Riva’s hand and they turned to look at Dramsol. “Here’s a map of the place, I’ve got a few places marked. The first is an office. You’ll find a key there. The second is where they are holding her. The third is your exit route. You’ll find something there that will make all of this mess worth it in the long run. Try to be as quick as possible, I can’t guarantee the window of opportunity for more than an hour.”
When they nodded their understanding, he smiled at both of them. “God be with you.” It was a farewell. Then the energies of a Traveler’s Doorway enveloped them both and they were transported into the research facilities of Doctor Vulkos Revier.